Fiat 500 Cabrio long-term test: report 2

Is an electric convertible a viable proposition or too much of a compromise? We're finding out by living with the Fiat 500 Cabrio...

Fiat 500 long termer

The car Fiat 500 Cabrio Icon Run by Claire Evans, consumer editor

Why it’s here The Fiat 500 is our 2021 Convertible Car of the Year, and we’ve got six months to find out how it stacks up as a real-world runabout

Needs to Be comfortable, efficient and fun to punt around local rural roads, and have enough range for occasional longer journeys 

Mileage 2055 List price £31,145 Target price £31,145 Price as tested £34,010 Test range 154 miles Official range 188 miles 

14 October 2021 – A rose-tinted view?  

Isn’t it strange how circumstances can change people’s perceptions of things? A few weeks ago, it was difficult for me to convince my partner Jim that we should use my Fiat 500 Cabrio for short trips rather than his beloved Mini Paceman. And when we went on holiday, he didn’t want to leave the Fiat in the airport car park in case something happened and it ran out of charge. 

Then the petrol shortage struck and, almost overnight, my little rose gold city car gained a whole new cachet, especially when the Mini’s fuel warning light came on and Jim faced the prospect of a couple of hours’ queuing to fill it up. Jim would regularly pick my car over his – and if I wasn't quick to react, I'd just see him waving as he drove off down our road in it. 

Fiat 500 long termer

I was up for sharing the Fiat, though, especially because it would give Jim an insight into just how cost-effective it is to run. Most of Jim’s three-mile journey to work is downhill, and the car actually gains some range on the way there, offsetting the couple of miles' worth of energy it takes to get home, so the whole drive is virtually free. 

There are other ways of maximising the 500’s range, too, as I’ve been discovering. The two most obvious options are the single-pedal driving you can do in Range and Sherpa modes. While Range simply activates accelerator-only driving, Sherpa is more sophisticated and also reduces accelerator response and deactivates the climate control and heated seats to reduce energy consumption. 

Sherpa is a bit of a Marmite setting, though, because it also sets a speed limiter at 50mph. Although you can override it, it does cause a substantial short-term dip in acceleration just when you might want it for joining a motorway or overtaking on a dual carriageway.

Fiat 500e long termer

That said, if you can live with it, it’s a great way of maximising range. I used it for a 40-mile, non-motorway trip from Kent to the O2 Millennium Dome near Greenwich and lost just 15 miles of range. 

This has become the start of a whole new challenge for me. I’ve not yet beaten my O2 run, but I have completed a 55-mile A-road trek from Kent to Surrey using 40 miles of range. 

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